Rainy Lake Medical Center’s culture is what attracted its new director of imaging.

Melanie Britten, who has a long history in healthcare, said after taking a temporary hiatus from the industry, she was looking for more than just a job when she began searching for the next step in her life.

“I was looking for something is going to excite me and provide me with energy that gets me up every day,” Britten said. “I wanted to be part of a welcoming community. I love small towns.”

And while the native of Deer River said her heart is in small-town healthcare, she made sure her career included a taste of big city medicine.

After graduating from Southeast Technical College in Sioux Falls, S.D., Britten spent about five years at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Ill.

“It was an 850-bed hospital, with a Level 1 trauma center,” she said. “I saw everything I needed to see there… I’ve been in rural healthcare since.”

About six years ago, Britten said she transitioned her focus to healthcare leadership.

“I love it from the perspective of empowering people to do their best work,” she said of her leadership style. “Celebrating other people’s success gives me a lot of energy.”

Britten has long been intrigued by the culture at RLMC, noting her connection to Laura Emahiser, former director of imaging. Emahiser passed away earlier this month after a short battle with a rare form of cancer.

“Laura was my manager when I used to work in Hibbing,” Britten said. “She always raved about Rainy Lake Medical Center. I’ve always had my eye on facilities such as this one.”

While Britten said the circumstances are heartbreaking, she’s honored to step into the role her former mentor held.

“I’m excited to be here at the hospital. I’m excited to get involved with the community.” she said. “I wanted a certain culture, a certain energy… I’m confident (RLMC) has what I’m looking for.”

Britten and her husband, Jeff, have five children and two Saint Bernard’s, “George” and “Fiona.”